Full-spectrum cannabis extracts VS CBD isolate
By Ian Jones
Ian Jones is a journalist based in Manchester, England. He specialises in technology and food, with a heavy focus on vaping, CBD and medicinal drugs. He began writing professionally over 15 years ago and is a regular contributor to New Scientist, Vice and the Daily Mirror. He is also the resident CBD expert at the respected vaping website Spinfuel. He began looking at CBD in detail after discovering that it cured his mother’s arthritis, and has since become a leading figure in the UK when it comes to educating people about the CBD extraction process and exploring its curative properties.
The public profile of CBD has soared in recent years, with users using it to treat all manner of ailments and conditions. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, ranging from simple oral consumption to topical use and even vaping. There are two main forms of CBD on the market. These are ‘full spectrum’ CBD and CBD isolate. There are a number of key differences between the two, which we will look at in this article. We will also look at methods of consumption, as this can have dramatic impact on the efficacy of CBD. As we will see, full-spectrum CBD is more popular, and for good reason, but isolate has certain benefits that might appeal to different CBD users.
The increased popularity of CBD has led many users to raise questions about the methods of extracting and administering CBD. The main question is which form provides the most effective range of medical benefits for the user. The two most common forms of extracted CBD found in stores are full-spectrum (whole-plant extract) and pure CBD isolate. Most users prefer the full-spectrum option. As CBD’s usefulness for medical purposes has become more accepted over the years, new methods of administering it have continued to evolve.
This has left some users concerned not just with which form of extracted CBD is most effective or what the proper dosage for them may be, but also with which method of supplementation gives the user the most relief in the right amount of time. Some of the most common methods include applying it sublingually, topically, or taking it in capsules. Vaping cbd is regarded by many to be the most bio-available way to administer, and as such, this has led to an increase in the demand for CBD isolate. This form of CBD is different from full-spectrum CBD extract in that it only contains CBD and none of the other cannabinoids, terpenes, or healthy fatty acids that commonly result from the whole-plant extraction process.
Cannabis, with its complex chemical structure, contains over 100 active cannabinoids aside from CBD. It also contains terpenes, which have anti-inflammatory properties, and are regarded as increasing the efficacy of cannabinoids. Although they are not rated as important as CBD when it comes medical benefits, some of these other cannabinoids have been found to have symptom alleviating qualities as well. The cannabinoids CBN and CBG for example, are found in most full-spectrum extracts and studies have shown that both contain anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and pain relieving properties.
Whole-plant extracts typically contain a carefully measured amount of the cannabis plant’s most prominent cannabinoid, THC, although usually not in a large enough amount to have any psychological effects. In many countries, a certain percentage of THC is illegal, so it is vital to know the amount of this cannabinoid when manufacturing products that contain full-spectrum CBD. When present together, CBD and its cannabinoid colleagues, as well as terpenes, produce what is known as an entourage effect. The synergistic relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes has been shown to increase the healing properties of each.
A study published by the Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research, which aimed its focus on the effectiveness of CBD isolate compared to full-plant extract, supported this concept, stating in its summary that “in all of the tests, the isolated CBD was ineffective both before and after a certain dosage, while the effectiveness of the full-spectrum solution continued to increase as higher doses were administered. The results all indicate that CBD is only effective against swelling and pain at a certain dose, and that cannabis solutions containing a full range of cannabinoids will continue to provide corresponding effects as the dosage is increased.”
Given the results of this study, it would seem to confirm that full-spectrum extract is preferable over CBD isolate for most CBD users, but CBD isolate is still frequently used and believed by some to be more effective than full-plant extract. This belief is led by the idea that CBD is the only medically sought after cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, aside from THC. Many CBD isolate users are under the impression that by consuming only the CBD cannabinoid and no terpenes or any other “unnecessary” components of the plant, they are getting a more powerful or effective dose of CBD. When vaping a CBD extract, which as stated previously, is considered to be the most efficient and quick-acting method of administering CBD, isolate users may feel that they are taking the most efficient route to CBD consumption. While this method might be efficient, the lack of entourage effect means the benefits are reduced when compared to full-spectrum CBD consumption.
However, CBD isolate does have something to offer CBD users that full-spectrum extracts does not. The fact that full-spectrum extracts invariably contain low levels of THC means that some users prefer to play it safe and stick to pure CBD by itself, out of fear of failing a drug test or experiencing a form of “high”, although both of these occurrences have been found to be fairly unlikely.
THC is one of the cannabinoids involved in the “entourage effect” stated earlier so it is ideal for inclusion in CBD supplementation. A recent article on full-spectrum CBD demonstrates the importance of THC inclusion by stating, “In hemp THC is a minor constituent and appears only in trace amounts under 0.3% by dry weight, as required by the U.S. government for hemp products. THC mimics the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter naturally produced in the human body, and binds to CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system found mostly in the brain. The extremely low levels of THC in hemp make hemp oil non-psychoactive and safe for all ages to use.”
The wide range of benefits contained in full-spectrum CBD extracts means some CBD merchants have either ceased to sell, or scale down the promotion of CBD isolate, in comparison to the whole-plant extract variety. Companies and individuals who extract CBD themselves are realising that cannabis has more to offer medicinally than just CBD or THC, and that there is little to no reason to not include all that this “super-plant” has to offer in the extraction process.
This all serves to underline the importance of testing CBD extract for the various levels of active ingredients. If your homemade CBD extract contains a high amount of THC it could be illegal in your country and require you use either a different method of extraction, or more likely, the need to find a source of hemp that has lower THC. As more scientific literature emerges supporting the entourage effect, and increased benefits of full-spectrum CBD compared to CBD isolate, we can expect the manufacture and sale of CBD goods based around isolate to greatly reduce in the coming years.
The public profile of CBD has soared in recent years, with users using it to treat all manner of ailments and conditions. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, ranging from simple oral consumption to topical use and even vaping. There are two main forms of CBD on the market. These are 'full spectrum' CBD and CBD isolate. There are a number of key differences between the
CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
It’s likely that you have encountered the terms “full-spectrum” and “isolate” while shopping for CBD. These two labels basically tell you the kind of cannabinoid content you can expect in your product.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is just one of many cannabinoids. This means that it is one of the active compounds found in the cannabis plant, of which there may be over one hundred. While CBD and its psychoactive counterpart, THC, are found in high quantities and are the most well-known, there are plenty of other cannabinoids worth knowing about.
This includes CBG, the precursor to both CBD and THC, and CBN. Each cannabinoid has different effects on the body, and it is thought that combining the various cannabinoids can lead to a strengthened effect on the body.
Let’s delve a little deeper into the terms “full-spectrum” and “isolate” to find out precisely what they mean with regard to these cannabinoids.
Firstly, What is CBD Isolate?
Probably the most basic form of CBD is an isolate. These contain nothing except pure, isolated CBD. In other words, there are no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids – just good old CBD.
Although this might be considered ‘basic’ at first glance, it is actually much harder to glean an isolate from hemp. When hemp undergoes the extraction process to remove its cannabinoids, all of the plant’s compounds are extracted. All the cannabinoids and terpenes come out of the plant. This means that extra steps must be taken in order to isolate the CBD and free it of any other compounds. Because of this, CBD isolate is quite hard to make.
It comes in many forms. The most common CBD isolates you will see are dabs. In case you didn’t know, “dabbing” is the act of vaporizing compounds on a hot nail and inhaling the resulting vapor. It’s kind of like vaping, except you don’t use an e-cigarette or an e-liquid. CBD isolate dabs come in the form of powder, crystals, wax, resin, or shatter, so-called because of its glass-like texture.
However, dabbing is not for everyone, and it is becoming increasingly common to see CBD isolate oils, edibles, and capsules, among other things.
What is Full-Spectrum CBD?
In contrast to isolates, full-spectrum CBD products contain a full range of cannabinoids. When the cannabinoids are extracted from hemp, the entire extract is made into a consumable product, meaning that you are getting a healthy dose of all the cannabinoids that were in the plant.
The primary concern here regards THC. If you live in a state where cannabis is illegal, or if you simply don’t want to consume THC yourself, then you might be concerned about THC content. However, due to federal laws all CBD products must be extracted from hemp and not marijuana. By definition, hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, meaning that the extract will also only contain negligible amounts of THC. These trace amounts will definitely not get you high.
So what are the benefits of a full-spectrum CBD oil? It used to be believed that isolated CBD was more effective than full-spectrum, but now the opposite is the case; most now agree that full-spectrum CBD is the preferred option because of something called the “entourage effect.”
This phenomenon refers to the way in which cannabinoids work together to become more effective. A study in 2005, conducted in Jerusalem, found that test subjects given full-spectrum CBD experienced heightened relief compared to those who received a CBD isolate.
Generally, users prefer to use a full-spectrum CBD in order to improve their general well-being. This does not make CBD isolates redundant, though.
What About Broad-Spectrum CBD?
It’s likely that you have also seen the term “broad-spectrum.” This refers to a CBD product that contains a range of other cannabinoids, but no THC. It allows for most of the benefits of the entourage effect, but with no risk of consuming THC.
This is ideal if you are completely against THC, if you are worried about taking it, or if you are often drug tested at work. Of course, a CBD isolate can also be used, but you won’t experience the full force of the entourage effect at work.
Should I Use Full-Spectrum or a CBD Isolate?
Now that you know what each term means, you might be wondering how you make a decision between the two. There is no way to know for certain what the best type of CBD for you is; it is just a matter of weighing up the pros and cons.
CBD isolate has the advantage of being the purest and most potent form of CBD. It often contains upwards of 90% cannabidiol. There is no risk of psychoactive effects, and minimal risk of flagging a false positive on a drug test. Furthermore, CBD isolate is both tasteless and odorless. This is perfect for those wanting to cook with CBD, as it can be added to recipes without altering the flavor at all. The only real drawback to CBD isolates is that they don’t create the entourage effect.
As for full-spectrum CBD, the glaring advantage is the entourage effect. If you are looking for powerful, efficient CBD, then this is the way to go. Furthermore, it is often considered closer to the original plant, and is therefore the most authentically natural. It undergoes less processing when compared to isolates.
The cons of full-spectrum CBD are that it may flag a positive on a drug test due to the fractional THC content. The negligible amounts will probably be dismissed in a follow-up test, but a positive could cause you unnecessary stress.
Secondly, the terpenes and flavonoids from cannabis can create a strong taste and aroma that some people find to be unpleasant. While there are ways to deal with it, it can be easier to just use an isolate product.
CBD Isolate is Best for…
- People with sensitivity to THC and other cannabinoids.
- People living in states with strict THC laws, or those who regularly undergo drug testing in their place of employment.
- People who wish to cook with CBD and want something with a light flavor.
Full-Spectrum CBD is Best for…
- People who are looking to target a more specific use
- People who live in states where cannabis is fully legal and who have no fear of legal repercussions.
- People who want to get the most out of their CBD experience.
We should stress that no CBD type is better than any other. While full-spectrum products are suited to some individuals, others will find an isolate more to their liking. It’s a matter of deciding what works for you.
Here at PureKana, most of our products are full-spectrum, allowing you to experience the benefits of the entourage effect. However, if you would like to try a CBD isolate, all of our CBD Pure Picks contain an isolate, and so do our vegan gummies. You can also try out our Midnight Roses CBD Bath Bomb for a luxurious, skin-loving CBD isolate experience.
CBD can arrive in all shapes and forms. Here will bring you the ultimate guide on CBD and explain the difference between Isolate's and Full Spectrum CBD Oil.